Swift-water crews rescue students, driver from stranded bus

High water surrounded bus route in Montgomery County during Thursday's flooding

By Brittny McGraw - Anchor

RINER, Va. - Thursday's heavy rain and flooding from Tropical Storm Michael kept swift-water rescue crews across the area busy, including emergency crews that responded to a stranded school bus.

"That amount of rain in a short period of time, it doesn't take long, especially in the mountain area, for the water to rise really quickly," said Chief Jason Roop, with the Riner Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Roop said swift-water and flood rescue techs across Montgomery County had been on standby, and it was Thursday afternoon when the call came in of a stranded school bus. Roop said high water surrounded the bus route.

"They turned around and tried to go back the way they came and encountered another bridge that was flooded, so they were actually stranded between two bridges," Roop said.

There were five Auburn Elementary School students, a bus driver and another teen on the bus at the time. He said crews, including swift-water techs from Christiansburg, quickly assessed the situation and got a line across the flooded creek and a boat in the water.

"We tethered the boat to the rope and brought the kids down the bank and put them in the boat and brought them across," Roop said.

A Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson said it is district policy that bus drivers do not drive through standing water for the safety of their passengers.

Roop said everything came together just right to safely rescue everyone.

"This is what we train to do," Roop said. "This is what we're here to do. This service that we provide to the community, it's what we do." 

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